Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mesothelioma Awareness and A Story of Survival

By, Crystal S Kauffman, Staff Writer/Heather Von St. James-Guest Blogger/Collaboration
©Heather Von St. James






Patients and doctors want to raise awareness for cancer that is caused by asbestos, which was used in factory and other places people worked at for many years of their love. So, Mesothelioma Awareness Day was created and was celebrated on Sept. 26th, 2015. Survivors are happy to be alive. but they are angry that the use of asbestos has not been banned. The fibers are invisible and deadly, yet 30 million pounds are still used by many different businesses.

This dangerous substance is also used in homes, buildings, schools, and commercial buildings all over the world. Additionally, asbestos is the leading cause of cancer in the workplace around the entire United States. The peak of using asbestos was 30 years ago and over 43,000 die each year from exposure the asbestos, which is still in work places like: mills, military, and in old housing units.

Here is a personal story about a spectacular woman named Heather, who is a courageous survivor of this deadly disease. She is on a mission to spread awareness about the disease, in any way she can. Additionally, if her story, can save one person and their family from facing what she went though. Then, she has accomplished her mission to help families to avoid what she has endured once she learned that she had Mesothelioma.

***Personal Story Written from Heather Von St. James***

In 2005, when I was 36 years old, I was diagnosed with pleural Mesothelioma. This was only three months after giving birth to my baby girl Lily. The symptoms I had could have easily been chalked up to postpartum issues. I was tired, I had only gained 5 lbs through the whole pregnancy, and I had difficulty breathing. I was lucky, and I got my diagnosis within two weeks and that is not usually the case for Mesothelioma patients.


My journey then led my husband, newborn baby and I to Boston, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was a world renowned surgeon. I had my left lung removed on February 2nd, 2006, and spent 18 days in the hospital afterwards recovering. My husband had to stay home in Minnesota and work, because the bills still needed to be paid. He saw Lily a total of 36 hours in 3 months. It was a big sacrifice but needed to be done for our family.


After going back home, I did 4 rounds of chemo, and 30 sessions of radiation. I finished my last treatment almost a year to date from the onset of my symptoms. The reason I got sick in the first place was from wearing my father’s coat when he got home from work. He worked with drywall and construction, and at the time as a little girl I did not know that his jacket carried harmful asbestos fibers that would ultimately cause my illness many years later. But, here I am.


I am lucky to be here today, and I’ve made it my life goal to be a voice for the victims, the family members who have struggled with this disease and those who know someone battling or who have lost someone to this disease. Asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada, and can be found in many commercial buildings and products today. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness, in hopes that one day no one else will have to go through what I did.

***Meet Heather Von St. James on Facebook or Twitter ***

Let’s raise awareness together!
©Heather Von St. James

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